Spain’s answer to Mrs Beaton, Simone Ortega, died at her home in Madrid last week. She was 89. Sra Ortega’s parents were French but she was born in Barcelona in 1919, married two Spaniards and never went to France except to do some cookery research and collect cookery prize or two. She was one of only four cooks who had any impact on Spanish housewives. The others were Angel Muro, the Marquess of Parabere, and the collectively written cook book produced by the Feminine Section of the Falange after the Spanish Civil War. Sra Ortega wrote five books in all but her most famous one was 1080 Recipes, which sold more than three million copies in 49 editions, making her the most influential cook of all. She was 53 when she published her first book of the recipes she’d collected since she married her first husband aged 23. She was left a widow at 25, and took up nursing and even managed a pension, until she married her second husband, José Ortega, who was the son of one of Spain’s most famous philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset. It was her husband, a newspaper editor, who encouraged her to save her recipes with a view to publishing them one day.


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